It was a senior night to remember at the Dr. Jerry E. Alexander Arena as the Central Christian College basketball team escaped with a 99-93 victory over Nebraska Christian College, despite a 63-point performance by the Sentinels’ DJ Hanes.
The Tigers were dominating in the first half, leading the Sentinels 50-34 going into halftime. With a 16-point lead, it was expected for the Tigers to run away with a blowout win. However, NCC took advantage of unfinished baskets, 14 turnovers the Tigers gave up, and Hanes scored 44 percent from the three-point line to keep them in the game.
“I thought in the first half we did a much better job playing with urgency. In the second half, I thought they had us on our heels, and we gave up careless turnovers. When we did get stops, we didn’t finish plays very well in the second half,” said Tigers head coach Tony Romero.
The Tigers were scoreless for three minutes in the middle of the second half, but their biggest struggle was defending Hanes. Averaging 33 points a game, Hanes carried the Sentinels, being the only player in double figures.
“That kid is phenomenal. We tried everything, and we watched him on film and hardly watched anyone else on the team. I didn’t envision him to score 63 points on us, but we tried to double team him on ball screens and half-court, yet, he still kept going. Our guys hung in there. They just gave us a good push in the second half,” Romero said.
While for the Tigers, five players were in double figures.
It could’ve been six but starting forward Kendric Warren, one of the seniors who was honored before the game, scored eight points.
The Tigers were led by Jubril Osagie, who finished the night with 24 points. Two of the five players that were in double figures were reserved players. TJ Williams (19) and Jaylon Simpson (10) helped outscore the Sentinels’ 33-9 in bench points.
“We moved the ball a lot better. We made some extra passes and we got the ball from side to side. Five players in double figures, that’s a lot. Outside of our poor turnovers, we did pretty well,” Romero said.
Romero is pleased with his team to get the win over the Sentinels for the four seniors who played their last home game at the Dr. Jerry E. Alexander arena. He will reflect on all the times he had with his players and wants them to leave his program on a high note.
“I’m happy for our seniors. It was a crazy game, but I’m glad we get to go out with a win in our own floor tonight. Our seniors have been grinding, and I appreciate their leadership, commitment and loyalty to this program. We want to send them off the best that we can as coaches,” said Romero.
At 14-13 of the year, the Tigers will play their final two games on the road against Texas Wesleyan University at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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